Beginning this Sunday, August 2nd, it’s Pedestrian Safety Week in St. Paul through the following Sunday, August 9th. This year, the St. Paul Police Department has a grant from the Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths program to do focused education and enforcement for pedestrian safety. Starting at the National Night Out on August 4th, city police will be distributing educational information about the state’s crosswalk law. They’ll follow up with enforcement at intersections throughout the city. At a press conference for the campaign, Sgt. Paul Paulos said the average fine for violations is $140, and he said there would be “no tolerance” during this enforcement campaign, so if you get stopped, expect a ticket.
In addition to the extra police enforcement, several St. Paul District Councils will be doing crosswalk events at intersections in their neighborhoods. As you’re out in the city this week, you may spot neighbors demonstrating safe pedestrian use of crosswalks and educating drivers on the state crosswalk law. Every intersection is a crosswalk, whether it’s marked or not. And as Summit University Planning Council board member Rebecca Airmet noted at the campaign’s press conference, “Everyone is a pedestrian.” No matter how you travel, you begin and end your trip on foot. If you drive, make a commitment to stop for pedestrians at every intersection, day or night. (Take the St. Paul Walks pledge and make it official!)
I’ve noted on here before how pedestrians are a disproportionate percentage of the Minneapolis-St. Paul region’s traffic fatalities. Although it might feel like a small step, seeing the coordination between the St. Paul Police Department, the city, the metro Toward Zero Deaths program, St. Paul Walks, and the city’s district councils this year is an encouraging sign that pedestrian safety is becoming a higher priority in the city. The need for safety for people on foot doesn’t stop at city borders, and I’ve heard that Minneapolis may have received a grant to do similar pedestrian safety enforcement. Hopefully future pedestrian safety awareness events can cover a bigger part of the region with a more powerful message that no matter where you are in the area, when you’re driving, you really do need to stop to let people on foot safely get to where they’re going.